Welcome to the ultimate guide on the CNA Skills Test!

After perusing this guide to the end, you will have all the tips to prepare and pass the CNA Skills Test.

In this guide, we will cover the following:

  • Introduction to CNA Skills Test
  • What does the skills test consist of?
  • How to prepare for the CNA Skills exam

Let’s get into how to scale through the CNA Skills Test!


Introduction of CNA skills test

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant is an enriching career path for those wishing to impact the lives of others positively.

The CNA profession is demanding as it involves offering patients quality care and service.

This is guaranteed by rigorous testing and training.

So, congratulations on making it through the CNA classes and the complex CNA training program!

However, before you make that final step and get your CNA license, you must successfully pass the CNA exam.

It consists of two sections: CNA practice test (written exam) and the clinical skills test.

In addition to sharpening your knowledge for the written test, it would be best to achieve a passing score of 70-80% in the CNA practice test to be considered for the next step.

The skills test has proved to be a challenge to several CNA candidates.

Candidates are asked to prove that they have the skills and abilities as nursing assistants.

They want to know if you know how to provide catheter care, help with bedpans, ambulate with a gait belt, perform perineal care, provide mouth care for a patient with a denture, etc.

The answer is simple: proper preparation; grants you the confidence to go into the CNA test.

This comprehensive guide offers candidates insights and tips on passing the CAN skills test.

How to prepare for the CNA test

Practical steps how to prepare for the CNA test

What makes the CNA skills test different from the written test is that you will be required to perform specific tasks in front of an evaluator.

It can be a nerve-racking experience as the assessor quietly evaluates your ability to handle equipment, record measurements, and demonstrate a wide range of skills.

In addition, the evaluator may ask you to demonstrate specific skills off-the-cuff; the stress levels are bound to be off the roof!

There are about 30 skills taught throughout the nurse training, and the candidate may be asked to demonstrate between three to six of them.

Worth noting is that handwashing is always included as one of the skills. It tests your adherence to proper hygiene procedures.

Candidates are afforded about half an hour to demonstrate a task to a ‘patient.’

The ‘patient’ will act in specific scenarios as directed by the evaluator, and you should be able to match the needs required.

Read on to learn how to pass the practical portion of this exam and discover resources that can help you review some of the skills you learned in your nurse training program.

Be proficient in the skills

The sharpening of your proficiency in the skills is a prominent yet often overlooked part of the CAN skills test process.

From a CNA perspective, the biggest mistake you would make is lacking the aptitude to pass every skill that they will test.

Since the skills to be tested are chosen randomly, the best course is to know all the thirty skills completely.

Take time to sharpen your skills on foot care, partial bed bath, applying elastic support stockings on a mannequin, giving a back rub, nail care, changing an occupied bed, performing personal care, providing a range of motion exercise, knowledge of PPE, counting, and recording respiration, etc.

Prepare an innovative and efficient study plan

Ninety percent of the people you come across believe in working hard.

The other fraction (ten percent) can attest to the massive benefits of working smart.

The mode of study applicable to every student is different.

In the long run, your success in grasping large amounts of data and using them efficiently in your practice depends on your mode of study.

Know the requirements of your State

Every state has slightly different requirements depending on the examination board used.

Knowing those requirements first-hand will help you prepare for becoming a certified nursing assistant.

The Practical steps

A Practical nurse working with patients

The handwashing procedure

The nursing profession is built on high-level cleanliness, and infection control is crucial for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN).

Hence, the handwashing procedure forms part of the list of skills tested in the CNA skills test.

Failure to understand and pass this procedure translates to failure of the entire test.

You want to avoid this case scenario by ensuring you comprehend the recommended hand washing procedure entirely.

The best strategy to master the procedure is to make it an everyday activity.

Whenever you wash your hands, practice each step carefully.

It will become natural and minimize your chances of missing a stage during the test in the long run.

Brush up on taking off measurements

As a Certified Nursing Assistant, your typical day-to-day task at a healthcare facility will involve taking different measurements.

There is a piece of equipment and method for completing each measurement.

The skills test will likely examine your thoroughness in using the equipment and correctly taking the measures.

It would be embarrassing and disappointing if, during your skills test, you forgot the proper method of taking the radial pulse or used the wrong equipment for measuring blood pressure, respiration, urine output, etc.

Brush up on taking off measurements

Mock tests are applicable in all scenarios, and one way to use them is for your CNA skills test.

As the day of the test approaches, you can set aside at least ten to thirty minutes of your daily schedule to go through the act of the test practice.

Go over the thirty skills and practice explaining each procedure as you would be presenting to a patient.

Use this as an opportunity to re-enact the handwashing procedure by practicing general procedures such as recognition of equipment and how to ensure a patient is comfortable in a clinical setting.

The practice is best done in group scenarios.

In the end, your skepticism and preparedness for entering the nursing profession are boosted.

Look up mock free CNA practice tests that you can engage in to polish up any CNA clinical skill.

Look the part: Proper dressing etiquette

Our poise and confidence revolve around our physical appearance.

Dressing appropriately for the skills test helps boost your performance in the trial.

In addition, pulling a competent, professional appearance reflects a positive character.

As you prepare yourself on the day of the test, ensure you dress in clean, pressed scrubs and have closed-toe clinical shoes.

In addition, keep your nails short and clean and ensure that if your hair is long, it is tied back appropriately.

Personal Preparation

CNA skills test personal preparation

Be early and remain calm on test day

Other than the thirty testable skills, the evaluator is seeking to know your level of commitment to your profession.

Hence, it would be best to arrive early at the site on the test day.

Also, since you anticipate a smooth day, ensure you have eaten and had enough to drink.

A last glance at your study notes and flashcards for revision goes a long way in sharpening your skills at the last minute.

If you need to calm your nerves, consider speaking to other candidates.  

Read and re-read all information given

The evaluator will provide you with a list that outlines at least three to six of the skills you will be tested on at the test site.

Ensure you go through them carefully.

Avoid rushing.

Read the terms stipulated and ensure that you can perform each of the tests correctly.

For example, if part of the skills tested is measurements, take a lane back in time and juggle your memory lest you will muddle up the steps of the procedure.


Conclusion on CNA Skills test

Unlike many standardized assessments, one can’t merely memorize facts to pass the CNA skills test.

It takes more than passing the CNA skills test and getting certified.

It’s unique in that you must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the definition of a phrase and mastery of the skill.

Additional resources are also available to assist you in your preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions on CNA Skills test

How hard is the CNA skills test?

If you diligently study all possible skills on the CNA skills test and practice performing each, you should pass quickly. The hard part is putting in the time to memorize the multiple steps required and practicing to do them physically.

How is the CNA skills test graded?

Your evaluator will give you a grade based on how well you performed during the skills you chose. The nursing aide assessor will review the checklist for each skill as you show it and note any inadequacies you may have. Your competency in every skill cannot be overemphasized.

How many can you miss on the CNA skills test?

The passing grade may differ from State to State. However, the typical score is 70-80%. We recommend that you competently perform all of the skills test’s crucial steps to pass. You must be equally prepared for all the skills since each has an equal percentage of chosen.

How long does the CNA skills test take?

Upon commencement of the test, you will be given your skillset. The skillset will generally take between 30 to 40 minutes to accomplish. Before you begin, the evaluator will provide you with an exact time estimate, and a 5-minute warning as the exam comes to a close.

What does the CNA skills test consist of?

The CNA exam includes a clinical skills test requiring applicants to execute five nursing tasks before an evaluator. You’ll have at most half an hour to demonstrate between three to five tasks. You most likely already know how to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

Do I need to carry any equipment tools for the CNA skills test?

No! However, you should treat the day as a working day, for the testing facility or institution will provide all the tools and equipment practicing CNA. It will help if you carry a watch with you. Keeping track of time will help you perform each task efficiently and comprehensively.

How many times can you take the CNA skills test?

The answer is subjective as each State has its provision for the same. For most states, you can repeat the test up to three times within 2-years of completing your state-approved CNA coursework. Three times are pretty limited so ensure you have performed the preparation you need. 


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